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PhD students and postgraduate research study options

We offer taught masters courses in Health Psychology and Psychological Well-Being. Students interested in pursuing a research degree (Masters or PhD) should identify a member of staff with relevant research interests and contact them directly. Examples of current PhD projects from some of our students are described below.

PhD students

Name: Nabeelah Ahmed Omarjee


PhD Title: An Investigation into the Attentional Boost Effect.

Description: The detrimental effects of distraction on task performance have been documented since the earliest days of cognitive psychology. Theories of attention suggest that attention is both selective in nature and limited in its capacity, and therefore the processing of information that is important for behavioural adaptations is prioritised. However, results from research suggests that an increase in attention to one task can boost performance in a consecutive task. This surprising finding is referred to as the Attentional Boost Effect (ABE). My research is aimed at investigating this phenomenon further by examining cross-modal interactions and other influential factors.

Supervisors: Mark Scase and Anuenue Baker-Kukona

Name: Katie Bell


PhD Title: The role of Self-Disgust and Emotion Regulation in the maintenance of Eating Psychopathology.

Description: This project used a mixed methods approach, whereby participants with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa completed measures of self-disgust, difficulties in emotion regulation and other emotion variables at baseline and at a 12 month follow up. Twelve participants who were recovered were then interviewed to explore the role of self-disgust within recovering from an eating disorder. Initial results have shown that those with an eating disorder experience higher levels of self-disgust compared to those who don't. Self-disgust also appears to mediate the relationship between certain emotion regulation strategies and disordered eating behaviour at both baseline and follow up. Finally, themes have demonstrated that self-disgust appears to be something that stays with a person even if they are technically recovered. 

Supervisors: Helen Coulthard and Diane Wildbur

Name: Clare Edens


PhD Title: Investigating a new coaching model as a parenting support intervention

Description: I have designed a solution-focused coaching model to use as a parenting intervention.  It can be used either face-to-face or over the telephone.  My research was a between-subjects design comparing a group of parents receiving coaching with a group of parents receiving no intervention.  The participants were all parents of children aged between 4- and 11-years old.  The areas the research looked at and measured were:

  1. patterns of interaction between parent and child.
  2. parents' perception of their child’s behaviour
  3. parenting self-efficacy
  4. the parent-child relationship
  5. participants’ feelings of well-being.

Supervisors:  Helen Coulthard, Elizabeth Noon and Joann Griffith

Name: Ngosa Kambashi


PhD Title: Male Rape Myths: A Mixed Methods Study of Society’s Perception of Male Rape

Description: Literature concerning perceptions of male rape has demonstrated that any individual can have misconceptions about male survivors of rape. These misconceptions are also known as rape myths, and acceptance of rape myths has detrimental consequences for male survivors and wider society. Scholars have purported that empirical research into male rape myths is under researched in comparison to female rape myths, particularly in the United Kingdom in comparison to other countries. Utilising a convergent parallel-databases mixed methods design, this research will aim to explore professionals’, male survivors’ and lay people’s perceptions of male rape victimisation in the UK.

Supervisors: Amanda Wilson, Joanne Rechdan and Elizabeth Noon 

Name: Sidra Kousar


PhD Title: Modes of influence in Pakistan and United Kingdom: A Behavioural Ecology approach to facial displays

Description: The Behavioural Ecology View of facial displays (BECV)—a theory rooted in evolutionary biology and animal communication—proposes an externalist view of signalling in which facial displays are tools for social influence, rather than signs of internal states. The proposed research project explores the key features of cross-cultural modes of influence mediated by the context and the use of facial displays in Western (United Kingdom) and Eastern (Kashmir, Pakistan) societies. The present research project will use data-driven methods implemented with correlational and observational designs before testing predictions based on contextual cues and contingent action.

Supervisors: Carlos Crivelli, Stephanie Cook, and Brian Brown


Name: Sara Taylor


PhD Title: #ThisIsMe: A grounded theory of the perceived antecedents to, and psychological effects of, adolescent state authenticity.

Authenticity is a concept frequently promoted in popular youth culture. Distinct from considered as an inherent trait, state authenticity describes the feelings, thoughts and behaviours experienced in a particular situation. Understanding this phenomenon – including its perceived antecedents and effects – could significantly improve the services provided by youth workers and mental health practitioners. Using grounded theory, this research aims to explore state authenticity through the perceptions of young people aged 13 – 16 years.

Supervisors: Amanda Wilson, Mark Scase and Diane Wildbur


Name: Ola Tkacz


PhD Title: Audience Effects in the Production of Facial Displays

Description: Human beings use different communicative tools in everyday interactions (e.g., verbal behaviour), with facial displays being a subset of these interactive tools. To develop a robust basic science based on current models of biological and cultural evolution testing the impact of facial behaviour during social interaction, this project will rely on a Behavioural Ecology approach. This research project will test the influence of implicit audience effects and social motives in the production of facial displays under natural and laboratory settings using data-driven methods (e.g., observational designs).

Supervisors: Carlos Crivelli, Valter Prpic, and Elizabeth Noon


Name: Nicholas Shaw

PhD TitleA lifespan exploration of the recovery processes through depression utilising photography

Description: Depression is a major health issue both nationally and globally. Research has predominantly focused on exploring maladaptive cycles and uncovering aetiology associated with depression. Though with a vast wealth of research and no real breakthroughs within the area, many scholars have suggested a need to realign the research lens to focus on the recovery phenomena, as well as utilising creative methods which have demonstrated, to good effect, their ability to aid in the expression of difficult subject areas. As of yet there appears to be no study which opts for a lifespan approach within the subject area of depression, or depression recovery, nor any lifespan study which has incorporated photo-methods. My study addresses both gaps within the current research literature and draws upon a concept known as therapeutic photography, develop by Gibson (2018), as a way to guide participants through capturing photographs surrounding their recovery through depression.

Supervisors: Dr Kerry Quincey and Dr Iain Williamson


Name: Emily Jayne Smith


PhD Title: A Mixed Method Study: Exploring the Perceptions of Cyberbullying and Cyber Aggression in Adolescents and Emerging Adults

Description: At present, there are conflicting views as to whether cyberbullying and cyber aggression are the same or two distinct phenomena. This has the potential to impact the reporting and understanding of these behaviours within the populations that are most susceptible to these. This research aims to explore how adolescents and emerging adults generally perceive cyberbullying and cyber aggression, and their understanding of the definitions of these concepts. The findings of the qualitative section of this research will then be further explored with a quantitative study. 

Supervisors: Roshan Rai, Mark Scase and Amanda Wilson